J&P workers in Saudi Arabia finally got their December pay cheque following a protracted labour dispute with the management of the Cypriot company, which is facing a number of financial challenges.
According to daily online Kathimerini Cyprus, which broke the story last year on financial trouble in J & P Overseas, unpaid and disgruntled workers have received their December salaries and are also expected to get their January dues by the end of this month. This puts an end to their four month long wait without paid salary.
The money was hard to come by, and according to Kathimerini, J & P had to reach deep within its cluster of business ventures. KNEWS also reported previously that the management had promised to do everything possible to correct the situation, including the possibility of selling company assets.
Despite other media reports that the company was cash-strapped, it turns out that J & P in Riyadh was holding back on paying salaries until it could receive cash from the Saudi government, amounting to €20 million according to Kathimerini, saying the amount was equal to the cost of paying salaries and benefits to Cypriot employees in the company.
J & P in Riyadh was holding back on paying salaries until it could receive cash from the Saudi government
President Nicos Anastasiades had paid an on-site visit to the Cypriot-owned company during his January visit to the Kingdom, but little was known publicly about the conditions of the company’s workers. At the time, it was widely reported that the recent crackdown on corruption, led by the Saudi King, was one of the reasons J&P could not pay workers.
A number of businessmen were imprisoned and that set in motion a major upset in the financial vitality of the rich city.
As a result of the dispute, which played out in public after a leak of a series of letters to J&P executive director Andreas Papathomas, rumours emerged that there was a major power play going on inside the company, as different factions who inherited the colossal business are now taking different positions and have been investing in diametrically opposite strategies.
The third and final letter said there were 6,700 workers in the company who were facing appalling living conditions. Construction crew and others on staff did not even have enough money to buy food and there was water shortage and filth around the plants.
J&P had previously cut down on working hours from 10 back to 8 hours per day, which translated to a 20% salary cut. This could have added to the bucket list of reasons for workers going on strike.
Another big concern was legal status for many J&P workers in Saudi Arabia, who were at risk of being sent to jail if they overstayed their work visas. But the company, which reportedly held their passports, was not renewing their documents saying it couldn’t even afford their plane ticket back home.
As of now, salaries in Cyprus are also being affected. March wages are expected to be wired in individual bank accounts after the Easter holidays.